Content Server Legality
April 13, 2006 6:10 AM   Subscribe

A school is thinking about moving it's library into the 21st century by setting up a content server and letting students/faculty/staff stream movies and music that the library owns over the network. Assuming they set up an authentication system, and only let a title be signed out to one user at a time, what are the legal issues they need to consider?
posted by parallax7d to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Tha bad news: This would be the making of 'ephemeral copies'. The good news, there is some specific wording in the DMCA that lighten some of the rules specifically for libraries. IANAL, but it's a starting point.
posted by bhance at 6:30 AM on April 13, 2006

You are asking MeFi? You need real professional advice for this area. Hire a copyright attorney experienced in this area. At best, use the info you get here to ask questions from your attorney. You know that legal or not such a system will rile the likes of the RIAA and MPAA. You had better have your legal bases covered before they come calling. You will be hiring an attorney if you proceed. You might as well do it now before you get the cease and desist letters from the RIAA and MPAA.
posted by caddis at 7:13 AM on April 13, 2006

Your school is far braver than any I've attended, and that's quite a few.

The number of issues here is far beyond the scope of MeFi, but would include licensing issues beyond copyright itself (especially for the movies). Most DVD's have specific licenses attached to them that restrict use beyond copyright law...for example, the right of public viewing. That might come into play here.

But even barring that, you're going to run into the same issue that ran into...even if you legally own the media, you can't always translate it into another form without permission. Libraries have much more wiggle room in copyright law than other entities, but I'm still betting this is not a great idea.

Strike that: it's a GREAT idea. I'm for it. But from a legal standpoint, I think you guys would be on very shaky ground. Are you willing to defend yourselves in court? If so, go for it! I'd love to see how this turns out...
posted by griffey at 8:40 AM on April 13, 2006

The sad fact is that what you describe is illegal. No matter how many controls you put upon it, it will still be illegal. By all means get a copyright lawyer - a good one - involved, and s/he'll tell you "no", and that will be the end of it.

Here's a well-researched report on exactly this issue. See section 4.3. What it says is that in order to make this legal, you'd have to negotiate licenses with the copyright owners of everything you plan to stream.

Lobby for copyright reform if you don't like this. Just because you think it's reasonable (and I do think the situation you describe is reasonable) doesn't mean it's legal.
posted by jellicle at 8:59 AM on April 13, 2006

The Kansas City Missouri libraries have audio books that you can check out online. You mgiht contact them for advice.
posted by LarryC at 9:09 AM on April 13, 2006

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